Extrapolation is a tool commonly used by scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to extend information from the known into the unknown. It consists of collecting known data points or known examples, plotting those points on a graph, and then connecting those points with a line. Next, the resulting line is extended to indicate what might be the existing conditions that lie outside of the realm of known points.
What follows here is an extrapolation based upon the present body of scientific knowledge concerning biology, abiogenesis, and the work done by Charles Darwin.
A prion is a protein molecule which can self-replicate. A number of prions are known to science, and mad cow disease is an example of a protein molecule which is predatory, and can self-replicate. Prions are also known to mutate, and to undergo adaptive evolution in response to selection pressure. Planet Earth of billions of years ago must have had self-replicating molecules present as a beginning point for life on Earth. Mutation combined with selection pressure would have served to push such molecules in the direction of greater success in preying upon molecules which could serve as food for the predator molecules. That greater success would be accompanied by the evolution of simple molecules into larger and more complex molecules, and then into collections of molecules. These collections of molecules would have enjoyed increased success as predators due to the cooperation of the various parts of the collection of molecules.
If you will extrapolate the evolution of these predatory collections of molecules, you can imagine that these collections of molecules might become so large, so complex and sophisticated, and so competent as predators, that they became the single-celled organisms that have been examined by modern-day paleobiologists.
So these molecules grew, evolved, and became single-cell organisms. Mutation and selection pressure would have driven these organisms towards increased competence. This increased competence depended upon the fact that the molecules of the cell became more cooperative with each other.
The next level of biological sophistication (as described by modern-day biologists), was the development of eukaryotic cells. These cells are recognized as being a combination of two or more simple cells (prokaryotic cells). The features and functionality of the various simpler prokaryotic cells within a eukaryotic cell give the eukaryotic cell an increased ability to find food and to survive. Once a prokaryotic cell becomes a part of a eukaryotic cell, mutation and selection pressure cause the former prokaryotic cells to evolve into a cell component to benefit the eukaryotic cell. The nucleus of a eukaryotic cell is an example of something that once was a cell, but is now just a part of a cell.
After Eukaryotic cells existed, the next stage of biological sophistication and cooperation was the advent of multi-cellular organisms. In these large-scale organisms (such as humans) various types of cells have evolved to execute a specific task or function. These various functions are a way of letting each cell make a contribution to the health, survival, and well-being of the entire organism. Each cell makes a contribution to the well-being of the multi-celled organism, and the various functions and behaviors of the multi-celled organism provides a framework to support the well-being of each cell.
The advantages of being a multi-celled organism are well known in biological science, and are easy to observe. The following description is an extrapolation based upon the past and the present achievements of life on Earth.
As successful as the multi-celled organisms have become, here on Earth, there is yet another level of sophistication, another level of biological competence and success to be witnessed here on planet Earth.
Multi-celled organisms called human beings have developed the brainpower, the communication skills, and the technologies such that individual humans are now coalescing into a super organism. This super organism is composed of billions of individual human beings, and as time goes by, the thoughts, the knowledge, the works, and the intentions of individual humans all become more and more known, recognized, understood, and acted upon in cooperative and useful ways within the human community. This is a new and higher form of biological cooperation, and the brainpower of human beings is taking biological evolution on planet Earth to the next level of sophistication and power. This super organism (the human race) is the next level of biological complexity, sophistication, and competence. The human race has already shown its extraordinary ability to survive, to grow, to evolve, and to make maximum use of the many natural resources of planet Earth. The sum total of human knowledge provides benefits for each human individual, and in turn, the knowledge, insight, and wisdom of each human individual adds to the increasing scope and power of human understanding. Just as human individuals are self-aware, the human race is becoming self-aware.
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The ACA Lecture Series continues Sunday, October 11th at 12:15pm in the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The building opens at noon. Texas Freedom Network's Dan Quinn will give us an update on their activities. The lecture is free and open to the public.